I’m surprised (unless I missed them) that there are no threads on Tookie. I don’t think he should be released, etc. just because he has written some books and spoken out against gang violence: if you open that door then you have to start judging every person in prison and how they have behaved since being convicted. And the fact that he refused to show remorse or admit that he killed the people he was convicted for didn’t help him (unless he actually didn’t do it.) Personally, I wouldn’t have minded if his sentence had been commuted to life without parole, but I’m not a fan of the death penalty to begin with.
There’s never been any compelling evidence that would exonerate him, and so it’s right that the original verdict of murder is upheld. That being said, and despite his protestations of innocence of this crime, he has over the years acknowleged the misery and destruction his former life caused himself and his community, and he has made a concerted and sustained effort to reform and educate people away from the lifestyle that was his undoing. Many prisoners on death row just serve their time before their execution, and never make any of the effort that Tookie made.
There was never any question of his being a free man again, but in this case, I fail to see how his execution has achieved anything positive.
I don’t agree with the death penalty, either, so no–I don’t think he should have gotten it. Life sentence with no parole, though, definitely.
If we get rid of the death penalty, soon the humanity of life without parole will be up for discussion!
Oh wait, that’s a good thing. Please continue.
It is rather interesting that the discussion over clemency (which, by the way, used to be a fairly common thing, with something like one-quarter of all death row inmates getting some form of clemency back in the day) shifted to a discussion of his guilt. AFAIK, no one asking for clemency was saying he was innocent, nor were they asking for his release, yet the counterattack from the death penalty proponents set up a strawman (“he’s clearly guilty!”) which shifted the discussion away from the salient point.
I did hear on the radio (NPR I think) a relative of one of the victims express his opinion that one more death wouldn’t help anything. Pretty much no one actually thought this guy should “get off” or be released as far as I can tell, but even those outside the LA gang/Hollywood fellow traveller/social activist crowd seemed to acknowledge that his efforts in prison had amounted to some form of restitution, however incomplete.
The governor’s take on the case–that Tookie had never expressed remorse and had even at one point boasted of the killings–is probably accurate but I question its relevance to the situation at hand. A governor’s clemency is just that–mercy granted to a guilty person to mitigate their just punishment, transforming one form of punishment into another. It is not the same as an appeal or a pardon or any other sort of reversal of the conviction or expunging of guilt. So while the governor certainly had the legal authority to do what he did, the reasons he gave were not really in line with the questions being asked.
That said, Schwarzenegger still should’ve commuted his sentence to life.
There are some bad motherfuckers in our prisons, people who can’t go a couple weeks or months without killing someone if they have an unsupervised opportunity. What do you propose we do with them? Let them out every twelve years to kill again?
Also, it is very difficult to tell the difference between honestly reformed and reflective inmates and sociopathic manipulators pretending to be the former.
Then obviously they are diseased of ze mind, and should be in some sort of heavy security institution.
I don’t know if it’s a disease. I think they function perfectly well in survivability and getting their needs met. Our maximum security institutions is where we put them. We have to give them life sentences because of some legal entanglements surrounding involuntary civil commitment to a mental health facility. We are making progress committing sex offenders to those places for their entire lives after their sentences are finished, but it really does a disservice to mental health treatment to turn those places into warehouses for criminals.
We have a problem with capacity in our long term mental health facilities here anyways, so a lot of our not quite crazy enough folks end up in prisons where more sadistic inmates use them to lash out at guards and get them thrown in seg or they just rape them and beat them. So unless we get more beds, we’d have to bump crazier and crazier people down into the prison system. (A lot of crazy folks break the law, it seems.)
The fact is, we just have people that are so violent and sadistic, they have to shackle themselves before officers will take them out of the cell.
Aside from the overall death penalty question, I do think that his sentance should have been altered to life. It could have encouraged other death row inmates to make the same kind of reforming efforts that he did, which would benefit our prison system at the very least, but more likely our entire society.
Really, this was an opportunity to do something that might have discouraged violent crime in the future. Shame it was passed up.
Yeah, something with walls and guards… if only such a thing existed.
Oh, come on, we can argue the definition what is a mental issue, and go through Foucault’s collected works in the progress, but it’s pretty safe to say that out of the viewpoint of society, anyone who can’t be unsupervised a longer period of time without killing someone is in the mental disorder category.
And is it not a disservice to both the prisoners who may not be necessarily recidivist to have to share a prison with total psychos and to the total psychos to have them in prison?
It’s pretty obvious that this wouldn’t be an easy reform, but I think it’s preferrable to keeping a lot of people imprisoned for life without parole.
Well, he claimed he was specifically innocent of the four murders he was convicted of. He admitted to founding the Crips and being a murderer.
On a small cosmic irony note, Tookie and Schwarznegger supposedly knew each other personally when they were both bodybuilders.
First and foremost you need to decide what the role is of the prison system. Does it have any obligation to rehabilitate criminals so that they can (hopefully) be reintroduced back into society and become a productive member of it?
Alternatively is it’s purpose purely to punish and anyone ending up in prison is just being taken out of circulation for a time (or permanently) to reduce their impact on the rest of society?
If it’s the latter, it doesn’t really matter whether they are mentally ill, hooked on drugs or whatever the underlying cause, there’s no obligation to do anything about it and we don’t expect that on release you’ll do much more than come straight back, so what difference does it make what happens to you inside? We can just consider it part of the punishment and get on with it.
If you’ve killed someone then you are probably beyond the redemption we don’t expect of any lesser criminal anyway and the best thing we can do is stick a needle in you and put you down like the sick dog we think you are.
However evil the death penalty might be, inconsistent enforcement of the law is far stupider.
So, exactly how many childrens’ books does one have to write before you qualify for having your death sentence repealed? Answer that figurative question, make it a law, and get rid of the ludicrious idea of governors having the arbitrary power to issue clemency. I’m fine with the idea that death penalties come with an automatic “get out of the chair free” card that activates once the prisoner has completed some quantifiable process of rehabilitation. That’s the only way to do clemency. The alternative is governers saying yes or no at political gunpoint, which is what happened here.
If he’d given Tookie clemency, that would have been it for the death penalty in Cali, because Tookie was, at the time of his conviction, a poster child for why people should be executed.
Which is a key reason that I oppose the death penalty: it is already distributed in a manner that is far too arbitrary.
WRT to psychos, some people just don’t value life very much (at least other people’s lives) and for whatever reason have no issue with killing someone to get their wants yet have no mental disorder (as you would measure with teh tools used to measure such things, such as the DSMs.) There’s nothing that psychology is going to “fix.”
As for the purposed of prisons, I think most people who are knowledgeable about our prison systems harbor no illusions that we’re rehabilitating anyone in them: it is punishment, pure and simple, and taking people out of the general population.
Amateur sociology hour on “psychotic” killers!
By the US’s stupid death penalty standards, he should be executed just like Karla Faye Tucker and every other suspect who got unlucky with the jury. Fair’s fair.
By actually human moral standards, of course, it’s completely fucking pointless to execute him.
The total psychos belong in prison, and they end up spending their lives in maximum security facilities without the prospect of parole. The other people go to medium security facilities to start, and are routed to higher or lower security based on criminal history, length of sentence and a number of other factors. The problem is already solved. If you shuffle everyone so you can call the killers “sick,” then everyone else is out of place. Loonballs are in medium security, drug dealers are in max, dogs are in a cat fashion show, and I am ice skating with the stars.
It’s not a mental disorder though, they plain don’t like people, and they don’t value them aside from their utility. Anything they want to do is ok, because they should get to have their way and everyone should go along with it. That’s the same way most criminals think, from car thieves to wife beaters, you can call it antisocial personality disorder, I just call it bad attitude.
Agreed. I would have liked to have seen Arnie announce a moratorium. But Tookie, being the worst possible hill imaginable to die on this side of a child molester, made the likelihood of that quite unlikely.